US 20050005343 A1
A vest is provided that may be quickly and easily removed (cut away) from a wearer of the vest. The vest may include a waist belt, a cummerbund, and shoulder straps which may be easily released from the portion of the vest by the use of a flexible retainer in cooperation with a connector device to secure the waist belt, cummerbund and shoulder straps to the vest in a releasable manner. A cable portion of the retainer moves in a generally straight line except for accommodating curved portions of the body of the wearer. An accessory pouch may also be provided which uses a strap and loop arrangement on the vest and pouch to attach the accessory pouch to the vest.
1. A cut away vest comprising:
a first torso panel;
a second torso panel;
shoulder straps connected to the first panel extending to the second torso panel, at least one said shoulder strap having a free end and at least one first connector element;
a waist belt having at least one side portion with a free end connecting a lower portion of one of the first torso panel and second torso panel to the other of the first torso panel and second torso panel, said belt side portion having at least one second connector element;
at least one connector device connected to the second torso panel and selectively operably associated with a respective at least one of the first and second connector elements; and
a retainer system having a flexible retainer element carried by at least one of the first and second torso panels to releasably retain the first and second connector elements associated each with a respective connector device, said retainer system including at least first and second grip members each operably associated with a said flexible retainer element, said grip members being normally positioned on an assembled vest in spaced relationship and adjacent the front torso panel, said grip members being operable, independent of one another, when sufficiently moved to release the first and second connector elements each from its respective connector device.
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This application is a continuation-in-part application of Ser. No. 10/604,283, filed Jul. 8, 2003, for a CUT AWAY VEST.
A cut away vest that may be simply and quickly removed in emergency situations. The vest is particularly usable in tactical and military operations.
Vests, particularly those used in tactical and military operations are well known. The vests are used to carry personal supplies and equipment, e.g., ammunition clips, flashlights, radios and first aid supplies. The vests can also be used to carry bullet resistant armor to help protect the wearer from being wounded in vital body areas. However, the vests have many drawbacks. One problem encountered with such vests is their weight when loaded with supplies. Soldiers have been known to drown because of the weight of the vests which may in part be due to a soldier's inability to remove the vest in an emergency situation. Proposals have been made to improve such vests. An example of a vest of the cut away style, i.e., removable by the soldier without having to unfasten belts and other typical retainers, can be found in published U.S. Patent Application 2002/0120973 to T. B. D'Annunzio. This type of vest is referred to as a cut away vest in which through the use of a release device the entire vest can be removed by the soldier without having to unfasten a series of buckles, clips, hook and loop fasteners, etc. This particular vest utilizes front and rear torso portions with the rear torso portion including a cummerbund to help retain the rear torso portion to the waist of a user. A waist belt is also provided to help retain the front and rear torso portions to the waist of the user. Shoulder straps are provided with the strap portions on the front torso portion being connected to the strap portions on the rear torso portion. Four cables are attached to a handle with each cable being used to releasably retain one of each of the two shoulder straps, the cummerbund and the belt as a unit and when the cables are pulled, these components are released allowing the vest to drop off of the user.
Such a structure though, presents problems. Multiple points of attachments are used, each utilizing a separate cable for release. Each of the cables goes through a loop. A loop is formed by inserting strap portion through the hole in a buckle or the like with the axis of the loop opening being fixed by the buckle and the strap or strap to which it is attached. When viewing these connections, particularly at the shoulder straps, the cables bend generally to a right angle requiring the cable to be pulled around a corner for release from the loop and buckle arrangement. The use of four cables also requires additional time to assemble the vest. The use of such a cable arrangement makes it unnecessarily difficult to release the vest from the wearer. Also, the rear shoulder portions of the shoulder straps are connected to the front shoulder strap portions complicating use and construction of the vest. When the vest is “cut away,” the belt is separated from the vest at two ends, the cummerbund is separated at one end and each of the shoulder straps is separated into the front and rear portions at the top of the shoulders.
As discussed, even though the above described vest provides advantages over non-cut away constructions, improvement is still needed.
The present invention involves the provision of a cut away vest usable for carrying supplies and equipment and is constructed for a quick release from attachment to a wearer so that the vest can be discarded quickly and effectively in an emergency. The vest also includes pouches that may be easily and effectively mounted on the vest at various locations through the use of a simple fastening system.
In one embodiment, the vest includes front and rear torso panels connected together around the waist of a wearer by a belt. Shoulder straps are provided that connect the front torso panel to the rear torso panel. The shoulder straps are releasably connected to the rear torso panel via a connector device that may easily be separated from the front of the vest by the activation of a flexible retainer. Activation of the retainer will release the shoulder straps from attachment to the rear torso panel. At least two grips are provided with the connector device. The retainer may also be used to separate the belt from the rear torso panel as well as a cummerbund if used, with the two grips permitting the separation from at least two spaced locations. It is preferred that the shoulder straps, cummerbund and belt be releasably connected at a common point and that the retainer be movable in a generally straight line, except for the accommodation of curvature of the body, to effect simultaneous release of the attachment of the shoulder straps, belt and cummerbund.
A supply pouch is attachable to the vest through the use of a strap or web connected to the pouch which alternately extends through loops on the pouch and vest allowing the pouch to be mounted securely in a selected desired position on the vest either at the sides or on the front and back torso panels.
In the illustrated embodiment of the present invention, the cut away vest, designated generally 1, is comprised of a front 3 and a back 4. The front 3 includes a front torso panel 6 and the back 4 includes a back or rear torso panel 7. The front 3 and back 4 are connected together by shoulder straps 9 and a waist belt 12. An internal cummerbund 14 may be provided to help secure the back 4 to a vest wearer or user. Quick release means, designated generally 17, is provided to effect separation of portions of the vest 1 from one another so that the vest may be easily and quickly removed from the wearer particularly in an emergency situation. One or more accessory pouches,
The front 3 is comprised of a front torso panel 6 formed by multiple overlying layers of sewn fabric. The front 3 may also be provided with a plurality of rows, both vertically and horizontally oriented, of loops 22,
The front 3 is preferably provided with an attachment device 40 positioned on the inside of the front 3 adjacent the middle and on the inside of the front 3 for help in securing and carrying a portion of the quick release means 17 for ready access by the wearer. A guide channel 42, which is in the form of a sewn elongate tube, is part of the front 3 and is used to receive therein a portion of the quick release means 17 to retain it to the front 3 and form a pathway for movement of a portion of the quick release means 17 therethrough as later described. The front 3 may also be provided with an attachment device 45 (
The back 4 (
Ears 65 in the form of flat tubes are provided adjacent the upper edges of the main portion of the back torso panel 7 and are separated laterally to form an opening 64 for the neck of a wearer. The ears 65 may be padded for comfort and they may directly overlie a portion of the wearer. The exterior of the back 4 may be provided with vertically and horizontally spaced loops 22 as does the front 3. The loops 22 on the back 4 may be utilized for the releasable attachment of accessory pouches or equipment and accessories to the vest 1. Sleeves 67,
The illustrated cummerbund 14,
The belt 12 has two side portions 79 L, R at least one of which is releasable from the vest 1 in a manner later described (
The quick release means 17 is operable for selectively retaining and releasing at least one belt portion 79, at least one cummerbund portion 69 and at least one shoulder strap 9 from the vest 1 in a manner that the vest may be quickly and easily cut away from the wearer in a reliable and quick manner. In the illustrated structure, the quick release means 17 includes a flexible retainer such as a plastic coated metal cable 85 having a handle 87 on one end and attachable and accessible to the front 3 and releasably retained in position by a fastener 86. The cable 85 is carried by both the front and rear torso panels 6 and 7 and passes through the channel 42, ears 65 and sleeve 68 and extends down to the area of the opening 57 for access by a user and releasably secures at least one of the belt 12, side 79, cummerbund 14 side portion 69, and at least one shoulder strap 9 to the vest 1 in a releasable manner. The attachment is shown being effected on the back torso panel 7. It is to be understood that the attachment in an alternative embodiment can be on the front torso panel 6. It is however preferred that the attachment be made on the back 4. The quick release means 17 further includes a multi-orientation and self-aligning (the cable 85 can orient and maintain orientation of the loop 90) attachment device such as a flexible fabric loop 90 attached to the back torso panel 7, as by sewing, and has a length sufficient to pass through at least one shoulder strap 9, one cummerbund portion 69, and at least one belt portion 79. As shown in
In the illustrated embodiment, the portion of the cable 85 from the loop 90 to the wearer's shoulder moves in a generally straight line, then can move around the curvature of body portions, e.g. the shoulder of the wearer to effect release of the vest 1 from the wearer. Although multiple attachment points could be used, for example the shoulder straps could have their own attachment loop 90 while the belt and cummerbund could share a common loop or other arrangements of these points could be used. It is preferred that the attachment is made through a single attachment point. If multiple attachment points are used, they are to be generally aligned in order that the cable 85 may still move in a straight line (except for accommodating body curvature) through the attachment points.
While the attachment point is shown on the back 4, it is to be understood that the attachment point can be on the front 3. The handle 87 is shown as positioned at the lower portion of the front 3, however, it is to be understood that it could be positioned at different locations. One military service currently prefers that it be at the lower part of the front of the vest 1 while another service currently prefers that it be adjacent an upper portion of the front 3, i.e., adjacent the shoulder of the wearer. In this event, multiple cables 85 can be provided with a vest to provide the option to the wearer as to where to have the handle 87 located. The handle 87 is secured in its position by fastener 86 to help prevent accidental release. The shoulder straps 9 are connected to the front 3 and to the rear torso panel 7 and preferably are free to move through the ears 65 by not being attached thereto. Pads 95 may be provided at the shoulder straps 9 to improve the comfort of the wearer when using the vest 1. The pads 95 may be releasably mounted to the straps 9 through the use of hook and loop type fastening elements 96 whereby the pads wrap around a respective shoulder strap 9.
An accessory pouch 19, as best seen in
The release system designated generally 170 is provided to effect separation of various components of the vest 1 from one another so that the vest 1 may be easily and quickly removed from the wearer particularly in an emergency situation. The release system 170 is similar to the release system 17 described above. As shown, the release system 170 includes a flexible retainer 175 such as a polymeric coated flexible metal cable having at least two grip members 176, 177. The grips 176, 177 are fixed or connected to the retainer 175. The retainer 175 has opposite end portions 180, 181. The end portion 180 is positioned adjacent to the abdominal portion 156 of the front 3 and the end portion 181 is positioned adjacent to the back 4 as described above for the release system 17. The retainer 175 has an intermediate portion 185 with a portion 186 thereof exposed adjacent the chest portion 157. The retainer 175 is mostly contained within the inside of the vest 1 by being positioned between layers of fabric or in guide channels like guide channel 42 like the release system 17 described above. However, the retainer 175 has the intermediate portion 185 exposed by passing through a grommet 187 which opens adjacent the armhole 153, 152. The retainer 175 may have the portion 186 exposed adjacent either the left or right armhole 153, 152. The retainer 175 then is contained within the guide channel 42 leaving a small portion 186 of its length exposed for a purpose later described. The front, includes a pocket 189 defined by surfaces 190, 191 and has an opening 193 opening generally toward the armhole 153.
The release system 170 includes the two grips 176, 177. The grip 176 is fixed to an end portion 180 of the retainer 175 and is preferably permanently affixed thereto. By permanently affixed, it is not meant that the grip 176 cannot be moved but is meant to be a relatively permanent part of the release system 170. As shown, the grip 176 is in the general shape of a D or an O having a through hole 195 with the retainer 175 being attached to one edge or extending around the hole 195. The grip 176 is preferably sewn fabric containing a portion of the retainer 175 between the layers of material forming the grip 176. The grip 176 is sized and shaped to help ensure positive nonslip gripping by a wearer of the vest 1. The grip 176 is positioned adjacent the abdominal section 156 and is shown as positioned where it depends from the lower edge 159 and is generally centrally located at the bottom of the front 3. It is to be noted that the grip 176 may be located at other locations on the vest 1 if desired. The grip 176 is in spaced relationship to the grip 177 to provide two separate and spaced positions in which the release system 170 may be activated to cut away the vest 1. The grip 177 is fixed to the retainer 175. Preferably, and in the illustrated structure, the release system 170 includes a single retainer 175 with both grips 176, 177 being fixed thereto for operation of the release system 170. Preferably, the grip 177 is movably mounted on the retainer 175. That is, the grip 177 may move along the length of the intermediate portion 186 of retainer 175 particularly during operation of a release system 170 to cut away the vest. As shown, the grip 177 is mounted to the retainer 175 through the use of a flexible fabric loop 197 secured to and extending from the grip 177 having a through hole 198 through which the retainer 175 extends. The loop 197 may be made of a braided chord or rope sewn to the body 199 of the grip 177. The body 199 is sized and shaped preferably to be at least partially received within the pocket 189.
An attachment system is provided to releasably secure at least a portion of the grip 177 within the pocket 189. See
Thus, there has been shown and described several embodiments of a novel cut away vest, which fulfills all of the objects and advantages sought therefor. Many changes, modifications, variations and other uses and applications of the present constructions will, however, become apparent to those skilled in the art after considering the specification and the accompanying drawings. All such changes, modifications, variations and other uses and applications which do not depart from the spirit and scope of the invention are deemed to be covered by the invention which is limited only by the claims which follow.